Last Thursday I attended the annual meeting of Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. They are a large regional tourist association covering the 16 counties in North Alabama. Every year they have an educational annual meeting with seminars, a member & board meeting and an awards luncheon.
If you make your living in tourism they are a major marketing and promotion resource for you. If you are not a member already we highly recommend joining. DeKalb Tourism is a Destination Marketing Company (DMO). It is our job to promote outside DeKalb County to bring visitors to our county, as tourists. We advertise in Magazines, newspapers, Radio, TV, press releases and via digital media, social media and our website, both traditional and mobile. Alabama Mountain Lakes promotes much the same way with the difference being they promote all of North Alabama and we promote DeKalb County. AMLA promotes to get tourists to come to North Alabama on vacation and then get them to come to DeKalb County specifically.
This year we had wonderful seminars by leading companies in our industry. They updated us on the latest trends in advertising and targeting our audience. Things have changed a lot over the last several years as marketing via electronic means now rules and traditional advertising methods are not used as much. Digital Ads, social media and websites, both tabletop and mobile are where the potential visitor is getting their information these days. Mobile web searches now account for 40% of searching on line and by 2015 it will surpass traditional table top searches. DeKalb Tourism changes its marketing plans every year in order to make sure we stay current and are able to get the most exposure possible for the dollars we spend.
This year DeKalb County did especially well at our Alabama Mountain Lakes awards banquet. In August the nearly 500 member businesses of AMLA were asked to nominate top businesses or individuals who make their living in tourism. This year we are honored to have won three awards. DeSoto State Park, Ken Thomas and staff won Attraction of the Year, Nanda Patel of the Fort Payne and Gadsden Holiday Inn Express won the Good Neighbor award for Volunteerism during the 2007 tornado’s and for other volunteer work she has contributed in DeKalb and Etowah Counties. In addition I was awarded the Lasting Impression award which commemorates overall career contributions. I want to congratulate all the award winners and especially thank Alabama Mountain Lakes for their fabulous contribution to our industry in North Alabama. North Alabama has doubled the number of dollars spent by tourists in the last ten years. DeKalb County and several other counties in North Alabama have more than doubled in ten years. Congratulations to the 1,300 people in DeKalb County whom make their living in Tourism.